On the second day of competition at the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) World Championships in Odense, Denmark, on Tuesday (5 August), the USA, Australia, Canada and Japan showed exactly why they are the top four nations in wheelchair rugby.
Defending champions USA recorded convincing wins over both France (62-41) and New Zealand (54-37) and look like the team to beat on current form.
Chuck Aoki was a key factor in the results for the USA and was very happy with the effort from the team.
“I thought it was an excellent complete team win. It was really important to get a good start. We are here to win every single game so it was great to get everybody some experience out on the court,” Aoki said.
Teammate Derrick Helton credited the depth team USA has at their disposal.
“I trust anybody to go on the court at any time. There is no one that will drop tempo coming on and I trust them like brothers. We are going to keep on track and keep trying to do what we are doing because every game is a new game,” he said.
London 2012 gold medallists Australia were equally impressive against Great Britain in their first match of the tournament.
The world’s No.2 ranked team got off to a great start and eventually won 55-46.
Australian coach Brad Dubberley was extremely satisfied with his team’s performance.
“It was good to get a win and get the World Championship underway. They are a really good team and are improving every time we play them.
“Everyone contributed which is a very positive thing for the week ahead. I'm very pleased with how the whole team played, we aren't driven by the scoreboard, we just know that if we execute we will get results.”
Canada also started with a strong win 58-47 win over hosts Denmark. The vocal home crowd was not enough to stop the Canadian’s quest for their second world title.
“We know that we've got to take everyone seriously here but we are here to win. Anything other than that will be a real disappointment,” said Canada’s Miranda Biletski.
Japan cannot be written off either as they won both of their matches against European giants Sweden (62-58) and Germany (53-38).
Head coach Adam Frost applauded the efforts of the entire team throughout the day.
“We wanted to start off on a strong foot and we accomplished that. We’ve watched them on tape and worked out what their game plan was going to be.
“We were able to score our goals and use our speed to create turnovers on defence which was the key to our success. Our high point players carried the game most of the time so when they play well we do well.”
The game of the day was played out by lower ranked nations Finland and Belgium.
Finland trailed at half-time but staged a strong second half fight back to narrowly win 48-46.
Here is a complete wrap of Tuesday’s scores:
Germany 38 – 53 Japan
USA 62 – 41 France
Finland 48 – 46 Belgium
Denmark 47 – 58 Canada
Great Britain 46 – 55 Australia
Japan 62 – 58 Sweden
New Zealand 37 – 54 USA
To watch a live stream of the action, please visit the 2014 IWRF World Championships website.